Global markets are less volatile than at any time in almost a decade as central bank intervention sends share prices to record highs and interest rates to historic lows.
Gauges of market volatility for currencies, equities, bonds and oil have all plummeted, with analysts attributing the falls to the widespread view that official interest rates will remain exceptionally low for a long time.
Global stocks hit an all-time high yesterday, with the FTSE All-World index up 0.2 per cent in late London trading to 281.48, while borrowing costs for some European countries fell to levels not seen for centuries. The yield on Spanish 10-year debt fell below that of the US for the first time since 2010.
But some analysts see echoes of the period of calm before the last financial crisis. George Magnus, economic adviser to UBS, said there was a resemblance to the so-called Great Moderation period leading up to 2007. “The previous Great Moderation ended in great volatility; this one may well do so too,” he warned in a note.
The Vix index – Wall Street’s “fear gauge” – which measures expected US stock volatility stayed near Friday’s seven-year low. A similar index for global currency volatility has hit the lowest since records began in 2001. Oil volatility is the lowest since at least 2007.
“The Vix tells you investors are very complacent and not worried about exogenous shock or geopolitical risk,” said Russ Koesterich, global chief investment strategist at BlackRock.
While policy makers are still catching their breath after the post-2007 financial crises, the lack of volatility has hit banks’ trading revenues. “Eventually there will be a storm, but the Vix does not tell you anything about the timing of that storm,” said Mr Koesterich.
Matt Cobon, fund manager at Threadneedle Investments, said: “The market seems to have bought into this, hook, line and sinker, that rates will remain low forever?.?.?.?It feels as if we’re a few data points away from testing some of these underlying expectations.”
The European Central Bank last week loosened its interest rate policy further and unveiled fresh measures to inject liquidity into banks. “Every time volatility picks up, central banks extinguish it,” said Jack Ablin, chief investment officer at Harris Private Bank.
By cutting interest rates, central bankers argue they averted catastrophe. Advanced world countries have returned to growth, and economic news has become more predictable.
Citigroup said the volatility of its “economic surprises” index for the largest economies had recently hit a record low.
As well as central bank action, volatility has fallen as a result of tougher regulations, which have raised the cost of trading, and because of an increased reluctance by hedge funds to take strong positions.
Stephen Jen, head of hedge fund SLJ Macro Partners, said: “People are more jittery. They have smaller positions and are quicker to flatten their books and change their minds.”
Additional reporting by Gavin Jackson, Philip Stafford and Delphine Strauss
全球股市昨日升至史上最高位，富时环球指数(FTSE All-World index)在伦敦尾盘时上升0.2%，至281.48点，而一些欧洲国家的借款成本降至几百年来未见的低位。西班牙10年期国债的收益率自2010年以来首次低于美国国债水平。
但一些分析师认为，目前局面令人想起上次金融危机之前的平静时期。瑞银(UBS)高级经济顾问乔治?马格纳斯(George Magnus)表示，2007年之前的所谓“大缓和”(Great Moderation)时期与现在有些相像。“上一场‘大缓和’以巨大波动告终；这一次也很可能出现同样的结局，”他在一份简报中警告称。
天利投资(Threadneedle Investments)基金经理马特?科邦(Matt Cobon)表示：“市场似乎已对利率将永远维持在低水平的观点深信不疑……给人的感觉是，我们距离这些基本预期中的一些预期受到考验只有几个数据点了。”
欧洲央行(ECB)上周进一步放松了利率政策，并出台新措施，向各银行注入流动性。“每次波动率回升，都会有央行灭火，”哈里斯私人银行(Harris Private Bank)首席投资官杰克?埃布林(Jack Ablin)表示。
对冲基金SLJ Macro Partners的掌门人任永力(Stephen Jen)表示：“大家都比较紧张。他们持有更小的头寸，并且在结清头寸和改变想法方面动作更快了。”
加文?杰克逊(Gavin Jackson)、菲利普?斯塔福德(Philip Stafford)和德尔菲娜?施特劳斯(Delphine Strauss)补充报道